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December 20, 2017

Don Harden Column: Precision Ag and Technology

Explore the details of precision ag and technology, especially when it comes to the financial savings.

In my latest column in Central Florida Ag News, I discussed precision ag and technology. Truly, you’d be hard-pressed to work in ag and not have heard of precision agriculture. It’s a topic that is all over ag news, from the latest piece of technology to a review of the benefits of precision ag. One benefit that is always mentioned is the potential for savings and increased profits. However, you might wonder exactly what those look like. The exact savings and profits that precision ag and technology might deliver will depend upon your operation, your crop, and the precision ag tech you’re using, but I will share some general numbers from research AgAmerica collected for a report on precision ag. See the details below.

The Growth of Precision Ag and Technology

Precision agriculture traces its roots to the yield-monitoring systems of the 1980s. Growth has accelerated quickly in the past few years at a tremendous pace. AgAmerica cited a 2016 study by the industry research firm Caledonia Solutions that maintains that the adoption rate of precision technologies by farmers will more than double from 2013 to 2019.

Precision ag and technology options like yield monitors, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones), sensors, GPS-based guidance or auto-steer systems, mapping, and more can be used by those in the ag industry to alert, track, predict, detect, and manage the fields and livestock. This equates to a decrease in loss and waste and an increase in yield and quality.

Precision Ag and Potential Profits

That same study by Caledonia Solutions reports that corn growers who have adopted precision ag technology have seen an increase in crop yields of 11 percent and a decrease in input expense of 9 percent.

Numbers from the USDA concerning precision tech on smaller corn farms (140-400 cropland acres) show that hired labor costs are 60-70 percent lower when one of the following technologies are used: GPS-based mapping systems (including yield monitors and soil/yield mapping); guidance or auto-steer systems; or variable-rate technology (VRT) for applying inputs.

There is still much to be learned, but it makes sense that profits would increase and compile with each form of precision ag being utilized by an operation.The potential for savings can also be found with AgAmerica’s custom loan products. Contact us to speak with a knowledgeable team member today about your options.


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